Has anyone ever told you that you should express your emotions, openly and honestly? Has anyone ever told you that a full-throated expression of, for example, anger will cleanse your soul and make you more authentic? Has anyone ever told you that bottling up your emotions will cause you to become mentally ill or even give you cancer?
Ever since Freud declared that depression was anger misdirected against the Self, therapists have declared that expressing anger was better than repressing it.
It turns out that it was bad advice. Expressing anger, throwing a fit or a tantrum does not cleanse your soul; it increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
The Daily Mail reports on the research, which comes from a reputable source:
Led by Dr Murray Mittleman, director of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Harvard Medical School, the researchers found that in the two hours immediately after an angry outburst, a person’s risk of a heart attack increased nearly five-fold (4.74 per cent), the risk of stroke increased more than three-fold (3.62 per cent), and the risk of irregular heartbeat also increased compared to other times when they were not angry.
The more you lose it, the worse it gets:
People who regularly lose their temper are most at risk, along with those who have existing heart disease, says a US study.
It is already known that those with aggressive personalities are at higher risk of heart attack, but the new study is the first to suggest an instant effect from an outburst of anger.
The researchers offer a qualification. Their studies have demonstrated a correlation between intemperate rants and heart disease and stroke. They have not shown definitively that the one causes the other.
Still, you are not going to feel better if you get it off your chest.
Besides, if you are often in a rage, you will probably lose friends and alienate people. There's a reason why wrath is one of the seven deadly sins.
Naturally, no one is saying that you should never express emotion. The studies suggest that the temperate expression of emotion is the best, for your mental and physical health.